Raghuvinder Kataria

VoIP company Vopium raises $16.5 million in bid to challenge Skype

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[Copenhagen] Danish VoIP technology company Vopium has received a $16.5 million capital injection, expanding its group of owners with telecom investor Raghuvinder Kataria, one of the early backers of what is now Bharti Airtel (one of the world’s largest telecommunication service providers).

With the investment, Kataria now owns the majority of shares in Vopium, which will use the funding to expand internationally in an effort to challenge VoIP juggernaut Skype.

Said Kataria, ambitiously:

“Vopium has developed its own new market. The ground-breaking technology will reach millions of users all over the world in the next few years. Our expectations are reflected by the significant amount of money that we have invested in the company and we expect 10 million Vopium users in a few years.

We believe that the market demands an alternative mobile solution to Skype and the fast market penetration of smartphones opens up new and more intelligent ways of communication. Vopium’s solution is unique because it offers the best conversation quality and is easy to use.”

Fighting words, but Skype of course has legions of users, and the company has made it abundantly clear in recent times that it aims to stake its ground on portable devices like mobile phones and tablet computers alongside desktops, so an easy feat it won’t be.

Vopium was established in Copenhagen back in 2006 by a group of people, spearheaded by Pakistani entrepreneur Tanveer Sharif. According the press release announcing its latest funding round, Vopium was originally intended for immigrants who were looking for cheap telephony solutions to get in contact with family and friends in distant countries.

Now, the company has expanded this target group to anyone who wants to make international phone calls over VoIP for the lowest price possible (which I think means pretty much everyone on the planet). Using its mobile application, users can make calls across borders for the same quality but at a fraction of the cost of what traditional phone companies can offer, the company says.

Vopium also offers IM support for Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Apple devices, including the iPhone and iPod touch. The application offers free calls to Skype, Google Gtalk and other Vopium users, while chats on Skype, MSN, Yahoo! Google Talk, AIM, ICQ and MSN are also available, with additional support for Twitter.

The application is free to download and works with over 900 handsets on the market, including devices from Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, HTC and Motorola.

Vopium’s applications have today been downloaded and installed 1 million times, and the company adds that 250,000 users in 49 countries are currently using the solution. Its self-reported biggest markets today are Scandinavia, the UK and Australia.

  • http://www.hindlist.com hindlist

    Even though skype is a good option but i think trying Vopium is not a bad idea.

  • sheesh

    were founders high when they were picking a name for their company? Gosh…

    • Mark

      @sheesh: maybe the company was launched in a different business segment and retained its name :)

  • arvind

    That’s a kickass story of entrepreneurs.

  • Salman Khan

    Looks like the business model of the company is pretty solid and addresses a market segment that has always been looking for options to make cheaper international calls. So if I udnerstand correctly, I should be able to install an application on my mobile phones and then make calls to any landline numbers. Works for me. I can’t wait to subscribe their service.

  • Ben Hedlund

    I think they are smoking opium, if they believe they are going to compete with Skype, in any meaningful way. Just looking at their website, especially the section about mobile phone compatibility, the copy is overly wordy, redundant, and poorly presented. While I respect their entrepreneurial spirit, throwing money at such a poorly represented product baffles me. Is their underlying technology just amazing? What approach are they using? How does it differ from Skype?

    • Salman Khan

      Ben, when you say redundant, do you mean they are repeating the same information?

      I just visited following link. You can choose the mobile brand and model and go from there. Didn’t have the same experience as you did.

      I haven’t tried it yet. If you find out how their experience is different than skype, please let us know. I think that is a good question. May be same experience but less expensive.

      • Ben Hedlund

        I went to the Blackberry 8900 page from the link that you show above. Yes, by redundant I mean the repeating of information. More than anything there is just too much poorly written copy. Maybe it is a problem of internationalization, but the end result more confuses than helps IMHO. To be fair I haven’t used it yet; does anyone have first hand knowledge?

      • paul

        i think salman khan is a friend or colleague tanveer, or IS tanveer himself.

      • Salman Khan

        Paul, I kinda knew its coming. Thanks for accusing me. No, I am not Tanveer (BTW, just searched on the name on this page and figured who he is) or his friend. Just a consumer who is not part of murder board and have the decency to appreciate competition in this market space. On the same token, are you Vopium competition?


        I did a search on Blackberry 8900 and found all the relevant information. Not sure what confuses you there? I live and work in USA for the past 25 years and see their pages according to international standards. Rather their color scheme is also inline with what a good presentation should be.

      • Ben Hedlund

        Salman, if you think that is well executed, I guess we can agree to disagree.

      • George Clooney

        Paul, Salman Khan is a famous Indian actor…. so you are right, he’s just an employee trolling the comments page.

  • http://www.biggtech.com Muzzammil Waheed

    Although Skype is the current leader of VOIP throughout the world, but it is pleasant to see that other companies are gearing up to snatch VOIP share and give some credible competition. Without doubt VOIP is the next upcoming big thing in telecom sector and almost all telecom providers and ISPs are shifting toward it. I see more and more companies will jump into voip services in aaddition to already established companies like Nimbuzz, Truphone etc. No doubt Skype, Nimbuzz and Truphone are well established and their products are rock solid along with millions of users, but I believe Vopium’s entry is warm welcome and will bring a more diversified and fresh experience and may well tap new emerging markets.
    I have used services and software of Vopium and believe they will have to work hard and fiercely compete in term of quality, usability and overall experience of their service and products.
    I hope Vopium after securing this investment has plans, resources and experience which can be executed to achieve their goals.

  • http://www.thepadrino.com/ The Padrino

    I hope they shut skype down

  • Alex

    What is the difference between Vopium and Truphone as product? Truphone has 450.000 paid users and now I see this company announcing 250.000 too, what is unique here?

  • sanity

    international call volume is a damn big pie and i guess every player has a slice of it and yeah some slices are more equal than others :)

    competition is good, helps consumers at day end and minnows together can shake things up for bigger players in niche markets

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  • Jake

    If i compare Truphone and Vopium i find Vopium better in terms of prices and stable connection- Skype though is my hero. I agree the site really needs USABILITY. the choice of fonts and colours is just worse than every thing.

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